Milan Chersonski (1937-2021)
From 1999 to 2011, Milan Chersonski, now a senior staff writer at Defending History, was editor-in-chief of Jerusalem of Lithuania, the newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania that appeared from November 1989 to early 2011 in four separate editions in four languages — English, Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish.
Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), was for a dozen years (1999-2011) editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s world famous (former) quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper (with each issue produced in four separate hard-copy editions, each with its own worldwide constituency, appropriate to the role the community has played for the large and variegated Litvak Jewish diaspora since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of independent democratic Lithuania). Before that he was for twenty years director the Vilnius Yiddish Folk Theater, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish folk theater company.
אַ ליכטיקן געבאָרנטאָג, טײַערער מילאַן!
Happy Birthday, Milan!
Holocaust flight survivor. Powerful essayist and masterful editor. For 20 years he directed the Vilnius Yiddish Folk Theater. Then, for a dozen years he edited Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Jewish community’s quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper (with each issue produced in four separate editions!). Beloved writer at DefendingHistory.com. Champion of Yiddish culture, Jewish heritage, teaching the truth about the Holocaust, human rights and equality, honesty in journalism and intellectual discourse, freedom of speech, and a more just and fair society for all.
Translated from the Russian by Ludmila Makedonskaya (Grodno); English version approved by the author, Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. He was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania. The views he expresses in Defending History are his own. See also Milan Chersonski section. Photo © Jurgita Kunigiškytė.
There were many festive occasions celebrated once Lithuania declared its independence in 1990. So many hopes and expectations were inspired by the sweet word freedom. Free-ee-dom! Laisvė! Had it ever been possible to even imagine beforehand, taking one example, that Lithuania would hold a celebration to honor Israeli Independence Day, dear to Jews all over the world? The new state organized a large event at the Palace of Culture of the Trade Unions in Vilnius in honor of a faraway state, which in Soviet times was mentioned only as “the aggressive state of Israel.”
Закрыв книгу Александраса Босаса «Тем, кто возвращается оттуда. О Шоа серьёзно и с иронией», на внешней стороне задней обложки видишь текст, написанный широко известной литовской поэтессой Далей Тейшерските. Этот текст – её достойный вклад в популяризацию книги А.Босаса. Большое спасибо ей за это.
Вянваре прошлого, 2014-го года из печати вышла новая книга стихов литовского поэта, публициста, члена Международной ассоциации «Литва без нацизма» Александраса Босаса под названием «IŠ TEN SUGRĮŽTANTIEMS. Apie ŠOA RIMTAI IR SU IRONIJA» («ТЕМ, КТО ВОЗВРАЩАЕТСЯ ОТТУДА. О ШОА СЕРЬЁЗНО И С ИРОНИЕЙ». Далее «Тем, кто возвращается оттуда» – М.Х.). А.Босас стал первым в истории литовской литературы поэтом, который не только обратился к самой болезненной и негласно табуированной теме в истории Литвы – к теме Шоа, – но и посвятил ей не одно и не несколько стихотворений, а всю третью, к сожалению, последнюю книгу. В ней поэт не шопотом и не намёками, а «во весь голос» открыто и откровенно заявил о своём отношении к трагедии Шоа и так называемого «окончательного решения еврейского вопроса».
В годы нацистской оккупации германские нацисты при активной добровольной помощи весьма значительного количества организованных и вооружённых местных гражданских лиц, вступивших в военизированные подразделения полиции, уничтожили почти всю еврейскую общину, которая до Второй мировой войны была самой знаменитой и высокоразвитой общиной всемирной еврейской диаспоры в первой половине ХХ века. Евреи представляли в Литве самое многочисленное национальное меньшинство населения. Еврейская община жила в мире и согласии с местным литовским, польским, русским населением, с другими национальными группами.
These observations do not claim to be a review of the traveling exhibition “Lithuanian Jews behind the Iron Curtain,” which was mounted by the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Vilnius (hereinafter “the state Jewish museum”) from 13 March to 31 July 31 this year. By and large, issues raised refer to the fate of Lithuanian Jewry during World War II and contemporary issues regarding some issues in Lithuanian history.
Эти заметки не претендуют быть рецензией на передвижную выставку «Литовские евреи за железным занавесом», проходившую с 13-го марта до 31-го июля с.г. в Центре толерантности Государственного еврейского музея Литвы им. Вильнюсского Гаона (ГЕМЛ). Это размышления о судьбе литовского еврейства в годы Второй мировой войны и о современных проблемах освещения некоторых вопросов истории Литвы, связанных с этими проблемами.
Milan Chersonski’s Open Letter to Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (Russian Version)
Milan Chersonski today released the Russian text of his open letter to World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder. The English version is here; background here; statements on the subject to date. See also: Milan Chersonski section.
The Defending History Community Celebrates the 77th Birthday of
Vilnius author (in Russian), editor (in English, Lithuanian, Russian, Yiddish), historian (European), theatre director (Yiddish) and tireless, fearless (global) intellectual champion in the struggle against the far right’s Holocaust revisionism, racism and antisemitism
Milan Chersonski, Longtime Editor of “Jerusalem of Lithuania” Calls on World Jewish Congress to Advertise New Yiddish Positions in Vilnius
VILNIUS—Milan Chersonski made public today the text of his letter to Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. Mr. Chersonski was editor-in-chief of the quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) Jerusalem of Lithuania, the official publication of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, from 1999 to 2011. From 1979 to 1999 he was artistic director of the Jewish Folk Theatre in Vilnius, which for many years had been the only Yiddish theatre in the Soviet Union. A film documentary tribute to his work was released in 2012 (part 1; part 2).
Mr. Chersonski is a regular contributor to Defending History. This statement reflects his personal views.
An Open Letter to Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress
Vilnius, 25 July 2014
Dear Mr. Lauder,
I am one of your loyal admirers who for many years, as editor (in the years 1999-2011) of the quadrilingual newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Jerusalem of Lithuania, has been following your achievements, and also your deep commitment to Judaism via a range of philanthropic initiatives that have made a substantial difference for the betterment of Jewish life. When you were appointed to the presidency of the World Jewish Congress in 2007, I was proud as editor to give the event and your many achievements front page coverage (see Jerusalem of Lithuania, 2007, no. 5-6: page 1).
A new page has been launched to provide selected articles from the English edition of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s Jerusalem of Lithuania. The newspaper was regularly published in four separate editions (English, Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish) from 1989 to early 2011. These selections are from the years 1999-2011, when the quadrilingual publication was edited by Milan Chersonski, now a senior staff writer at Defending History. The page is being developed in close consultation with Mr. Chersonski.
Chersonski Replies to Aleksandravičius on the 2012 Kaunas Reburial of the 1941 Nazi Puppet Prime Minister
Translated from Russian by Ludmila Makedonskaya (Grodno); updated English version approved by the author, Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. He was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania. The views he expresses in Defending History are his own. Photo: Milan Chersonski (image © Jurgita Kunigiškytė). Milan Chersonski section.
Real Heroes and Supposed Heroes
Who Protested and Why?
In May 2012 solemn funeral events were held in Kaunas: the ashes of the interim prime minister of the Provisional Government of Lithuania (hereinafter PG) Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis were transferred from the state of Connecticut in the United States, where he was buried in 1974, to Kaunas, the former temporary capital of Lithuania. There the ashes were reburied.
Chersonski Replies to Aleksandravičius on the 2012 Kaunas Reburial with Full Honors of 1941 Nazi Puppet Prime Minister
ГЕРОИ – НАСТОЯЩИЕ И НАЗНАЧЕННЫЕ
O P I N I O N
Authorized translation from the Russian by Ludmila Makedonskaya (New York)
In accordance with the law of the Republic of Lithuania for days of commemoration, June 23rd has been declared a national memorial day. It is the day of the 1941 June Uprising. As known, the extermination of the Lithuanian Jewish minority began on the same day as this “uprising.”
Шествие под лозунгом
«ФАЛЬСИФИКАЦИИ ИСТОРИИ – НЕТ!»
В соответствии с законом о памятных днях Литовской Республики, 23-е июня провозглашено национальной памятной датой – днём Июньского восстания 1941-го года. Как известно, уничтожение Еврейской общины Литвы началось в тот же день, что и восстание. Continue reading
O P I N I O N
by Milan Chersonski
The following is the authorized English version of the paper read by Milan Chersonski in Riga on 27 May 2013 at the Second International Conference on Holocaust Museums and Memorial Places in Post-Communist Countries.
Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish amateur theater company.
See also the Milan Chersonski section of Defending History.
In Eastern European countries occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II there was a phenomenon called “collaborationism”: the cooperation of individuals and organizations with the Nazi occupation regime. In the modern historiography of these countries, events of that fateful time are often presented not by historians, but primarily by right-wing or extreme right-wing politicians, who continue today to convince the public that the collaboration was in fact nothing but a form of struggle for independence, and a kind of resistance to the Nazi regime.
Sometimes this approach to the evaluation of historical events is called whitewashing. The purpose of this manipulative activity is clear: to absolve the erstwhile Nazi collaborators and pro-Nazi national organizations from the responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed during the Nazi occupation, and their countries from responsibility for Nazi crimes.
O P I N I O N
by Milan Chersonski
RIGA—The following is the authorized text, in the original Russian, of Milan Chersonski’s paper delivered today at the international conference on Holocaust Commemoration and Memorials in Post-Communist Countries. See also: Milan Chersonski section.
O P I N I O N
by Milan Chersonski
Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish amateur theater company. The views he expresses in DefendingHistory are his own. This is an authorized English version (updated by the author) by Ludmilla Makedonskaya (Los Angeles). Russian original.
Photo: Milan Chersonski at this desk at the Jewish Community of Lithuania (image © 2012 Jurgita Kunigiškytė). Milan Chersonski section.
Dear Mr. Jonathan Brent,
A little over a year ago, on 12 September 2011, I wrote my first open letter to you. I wrote that it is inappropriate to hold an event commemorating the Jews of Vilna who were victims of genocide together with the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Audronis Ažubalis on the premises of Yivo. If you did not then find time to read my letter, you can find it now online.